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i4              A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
a four-storeyed London house, lying quietly in its desert hollow; then, as ray after ray began to light up its detail, the silvered face and outstretched paws of the old familiar figure. Now it became for me the striking symbol of that Egypt whose mysterious origin mounts to immemorial antiquity. Couched like a lonely watch-dog, keeping eternal vigil over prehistoric secrets, brooding over Atlantean worlds whose very names are lost to the frail memory of mankind, this colossal stone creature will outlive every civilization which the race has spawned up to-day and still maintain its inner life intact. That grave and grandiose face betrays nothing, those silent stone lips are pledged to everlasting silence, and if there is any hidden message which the Sphinx holds for man and that it has passed down through the centuries to the privileged penetrative few, then it will be whispered only as the Masonic "Master's Word" is whispered in the candidate's ear "at low breath." What wonder that Roman Pliny wrote of the Sphinx that it was "a wondrous object of art upon which silence has been observed, as it is looked upon as a divinity by the people of the neighbourhood."
Night provides a perfect frame for the Sphinx. Behind and on either side of it there stretched the so-called "City of the Dead," a region which literally teems with tombs. All around the rocky plateau which juts out of the sand south, west and north of the Sphinx, tcmb after tomb has been hollowed out to take the sarcophagi of royal flesh, mummified aristocrats and priestly dignitaries.
For six years the Egyptians themselves, following the lead of Western pioneers, have been making a systematic and thorough effort to unearth the entire central portion of this vast necropolis. They have shifted thousands of tons of the great sand-drift which formerly covered the site, revealing narrow passages, cut like trenches in the rock, which cross and criss-cross from one tomb to another, and paved paths connecting the pyramids with their temples. I have traversed this ground from end to end, visiting the burial chambers, private shrines, priests' rooms and mortuary chapels which honeycomb it. Truly is it worthy of its name, "City of the Dead,"'for, separated by several yards in space and nearly three thousand years in time, two great burial-grounds lie superimposed on each other within its confines. Those old Egyptians dug deep when they wanted to hide their dead, one chamber being no less than one hundred and ninety feet below the surface of the famous causeway. I have